2010-08-19 / News

From the Town Administrator

By Bruce Keiser
The seeming endless string of warm, sunny days beginning in early June has already made summer 2010 a blazing success. While it’s still too early to draw the curtain on this most special of summers in Jamestown, I would like to alert residents to two of several ongoing issues that will be on the community agenda this Fall.

Wind Turbine Development:

Town voters will have an opportunity on Nov. 2 to determine if Jamestown will take advantage of our exceptional wind resources to generate clean renewable power. On the ballot voters will be asked to support the sale of bonds for a single wind turbine at Taylor Point. Depending on its size, the turbine will generate more than 4 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year or twice the total annual consumption by all municipal and school buildings and facilities.

In addition to a $750,000 federal grant, the Town will need to borrow in excess of $5 million to procure and construct the wind turbine. Based on a consultant’s initial financial analysis, revenues produced by the turbine’s power generation will exceed expenses every year over the minimum 20-year life of the project. Total cumulative net earnings to the Town are estimated at $4.5 million. These are significant returns and demonstrate that Jamestown has a natural resource that can yield substantial financial benefits for the community.

As the active debates in other New England towns have shown, however, the installation of large wind turbines is not universally embraced by all residents. The positive aspects of community clean renewable energy are clear: reduction of greenhouse gases; energy independence; and local revenue gains. Despite the documented benefits, some residents have opposed turbine installation due to the impact on viewsheds and landscapes. These concerns generate lively community discussions leading up to a townwide vote on adoption of wind as an energy choice.

To facilitate this very important debate, the Town will retain an energy consultant to assist in evaluating the financial elements of the project and to prepare scaled photographic images of a Taylor Point turbine. The economic analysis will detail financing options and markets for sale of renewable energy, the basis for wind energy production estimates, debt servicing, and annual operating and maintenance costs. Photographic renderings will show the appearance of the 400-foot tower and rotors from several vantage points including Bayview Drive and Mount Hope Avenue, East Shore Road, North Road (at Neale and Hodgkiss Farms), and the Newport Bridge.

To ensure that voters have adequate and timely information, the reports and images will be available by the end of September. The Town Council will provide forums for public discussion.

Community Recycling

The Recycling Committee is considering recommendations to boost our community’s performance in recycling of household solid waste. In the 12-months ending June 30, RI Resource Recovery reported that Jamestown recycled 25 percent of its residential trash. This rate places us somewhere in the middle of the pack compared to other Rhode Island cites and towns. Most communities continue to fall short of the state’s recycling mandate, which was set at 30.5 percent of total residential waste for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

In actual tonnage, the Town paid $75,488 to dispose of 2,221 tons at the Central Landfill. We recycled an additional 731 tons at no cost (excluding collection and hauling). Because we did not meet the recycling target, however, the Town incurred added disposal expense of $10,304. In the current year the required recycling goal rises to 32.75 percent. If our rate stays at last year’s level, our excess trash disposal cost will increase to $13,141.

The Town hopes to expand recycling through a number of approaches. These will include more frequent communications to remind residents to develop maximum recycling habits and providing better signage at the transfer station for disposal of larger recyclable items such as computers, televisions, and white goods. In addition, we are evaluating the merits of a Pay- As-You-Throw (PAYT) system that the US Environmental Protection Agency says is practiced by more than 7,000 cities and towns across the country.

PAYT is a user-fee based program that provides an economic incentive to recycle more and throw away less. Under PAYT, households would purchase specially colored trash bags (at local retail outlets, transfer station, and town hall). Only these bags would be accepted by the local hauler or at the transfer station. The cost of the bags would be offset by a reduction in household solid waste collection and disposal expenditures. EPA’s national evaluation has shown that recycling rates typically reach 40 percent or higher in communities that have adopted a system that charges for waste generation similar to other utilities.

We expect to receive a great deal of resident input on this recycling initiative!

Other important issues on the Town’s agenda this fall include: the ongoing battle against the proposed Hess/Weaver’s Cove LNG facility in Mount Hope Bay; improvements at Ft. Getty; re-use of the old Highway Barn property; private well testing in the Shores; energy efficiency and conservation of Town and School buildings; review of emergency medical services delivery; reduction of street lighting; and assessment of police staffing and administration.

Have a great end of summer!

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